Friday, October 31, 2008

Homemade products

I've been making my own laundry detergent for while now. I started by using this recipe

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap, as listed above

½ cup washing soda

½ cup borax powder

~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.

But I didn't get really good results with it. (But I've heard that lots of people do, so give it a try if you're inclined.) And it takes a really long time to make and requires a really big container. I usually ended up using one big stock pot and whatever other large container I had at the time. I then found that it lumped up quite a bit in the month or two that it took to use it up.


I then tried a larger concentration of Fels Napa, Borax, and Washing Soda. It was a no go, so I did a combination of store bought and homemade.

A couple of months ago I decided to try this recipe:

Powdered Laundry Detergent

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated - you could also try the other bar soaps listed at the top)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

  • Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
  • Use 2 tablespoons per full load.
It just didn't seem to work as well as people were saying.

Then I remembered reading that one person added 1/4- 1/2c oxyclean to this mix and had good results. I tried it and is works great. Still use about 2 Tbl. I love it and it is so much cheaper than store bought detergents!!! It does take a while to grate the soap, but if you have a food processor you can grate the soap and then use the blade to cut the soap into smaller pieces. Easy Peasy!! And Cheap.

This recipe seems to last about a month and a half. I made my last recipe 10/25 and will report back when I finish it. There are 6 in my family. I probably do 5-10 loads of laundry a week.





Thursday, October 30, 2008

Preparatory work

I told myself that I would try to do 15 min. of work on the couch a day. I may have to extend the time. Once I get going I want to finish the job I started.

My first project was to remove the skirt. I used this tool (I don't know what it's called) that is used for pulling staples out of the floor (you now for when you redo your flooring.) It was pretty handy. If I could get the staples out just a little with a screw driver, I could rock the rest of the staple out with the curved part of this tool. I think it took me about 45 min. to get the skirt off.


Can you see the white spots? I think it may be some kind of mildew or mold. The whole skirt is spotted with it. I wonder what I'll find underneath the main body fabric.



Here's me taking off the back of the skirt, half way done.



Done. Here's the back of the couch. Look how much better the back fabric looks!! It looks new.



Here's the front. Hmmm...maybe I will keep the wings. I think it will look pretty cute once I'm done. I'm not convinced that the navy blue microsuede that I bought, to redo a couch a couple of years ago, is really the right style for this couch, but that's what I have. Can't you just see a sweet gathered skirt? I don't think the microsuede will gather. I can just imagine one of those new designer fabrics like Amy Butler's or Anna Corner's fabrics on this couch. On the other hand, a nice neutral will always go with different designer pillows. (Less expensive too.)

Next the back will come off. Then I'll be able to see what innards need to be replaced. I'm thinking just batting will need to be replaced (judging by the smell.)

Oh just so I remember the skirt was 65" in front + about 4" for folding the edges and 33" on the side.

Craig's List Couch

Here is what the CL ad said:

Ethan Allen Hide-a-bed couch, green.
Not ugly! No stains or holes. Mattress in good condition.




So if there are no holes in this couch just what do you call the lack of fabric on the cushions and right inside arm? Hmmmm...




We bought it anyway. It's not my ideal couch, but it is a sturdy and I don't know if any of you realize, but it is really, really hard to find small couches. This one is 69" and fits perfect in our tiny house. It's about 10 year old and smells like old cushion foam. The smell was undetectable at the house we bought it at, but at our house, when you are sitting on the couch it can be a little overwhelming.



So it is a little old fashioned. I'm not sure if I like the "wing chair" look, (the kids love this look and think it's the best part of the couch) but it's growing on me, kind-of. I found a couch on the internet exactly like this where the owner pried off the wing things and changed the shape of the arms to a more modern look. It looked pretty good. I kind of like the small arms so I don't think I'll change that, but I am thinking since I need to take off the back foam (remember it stinks) I'm thinking I'll change the back to loose cushions.

My second idea is to still remove the wing things, but instead of making loose pillows keeping the back flatish like it is now.

My third idea is to leave the wing things (since the kids love them) and .....haven't gotten that far yet.

One thing I love about this couch is the bottom cushions don't move. Since we put it in the living room Sat. night we haven't had to touch the cushions! I'm wondering if I do put loose cushions on the couch if this will affect that, but I doubt it will because I'm thinking the reason they don't move is because the foam is a tight fit.

I think eventually I'll replace the mattress. The guy told me in one of the e-mails that the mattress hadn't been used more than 10 times. WRONG!!!!! It has been more than that by evidence of the extra egg cart mattress added to the mattress and sheet and pillow stuffed in there. I wonder if he was just a clueless husband or a liar trying to offload this couch.

Anyway, that is neither here nor there because I bought the couch. (size, size, size and hide-a-bed meant everything to me.)

So opinions please. Should I keep the old fashioned look? (It will be harder to slipcover and I'm not sure I'm totally up for that) or should I pry of the wings (and go the easy route) and make it look a bit more modern? I will be replacing the bottom cushions no matter what. (One or two bottom cushions?)
Oh yeah, Even though I'll be taking the couch apart I won't really be reupholstering it, I'll probably staple on muslin to keep everything in place and slip a slipcover over top it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

3 month supply

For a while now, I've been trying to gather items for our short and long term food storage.(I'm not doing a very good job. We seem to go through our storage quite quickly.) I found this really great site called Preparedness Matters. It has recipes for food storage items and talks about how important it is to be prepared for life's temporal challenges. I've been checking the site every couple of days and have never been disappointed with the ingenuity of the recipes, like just a couple of days ago a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with white beans was posted. It looks like the white beans is a substitute for shortening. REALLY? Amazing! Did you know you could can butter?? Me neither. Lot's of helpful information on that site!

Well, today I was visiting and saw this link. You have to go and take a look!! Not only can you use it to help gather your 3 month food storage (which is what it's designed for) but you can also use it for a grocery shopping list and to list the price you usually pay for the items so you can get the best deal. It keeps track of the things you have and what you need to buy, your menu and the ingredients. You really have to check it out!!! AND IT"S FREE!! FREE!! FREE!! Did you hear me?? FREE!! It's ingenious! Be sure to watch the tutorial.

So I haven't yet checked out the rest of the site, but I will check it out tonight after I put the kids to bed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's October!

Yes, I know it's been that way for a while, but now it truly feels like October. The kindergartners have taken their annual trip to the pumpkin farm today.



The boys and I met up with Super L on her field trip and watched her get lost in the hay maze, had a hay ride, and watched as she picked out the perfect pumpkin. She found the pumpkin in less then three minutes. Pretty fast! Both Super S, and A took f o r e v e r to find their perfect pumpkins when they were in kindergarten.



Only Super L was able to get a pumpkin today. We have a planned date and time for our next family trip to the pumpkin farm and on that day we will all get pumpkins for carving.





Regarding the last post, The boys had absolutely no help coming up with their movie idea. Super S has been thinking about the skit for about a week and a half. We had no idea what it was about until they actually did it. Super Dad did the video while I went on errands. I just about died when I came home from errands and watched the part of the clip where economy eats the $700 billion. Super Dad and I now go around the house saying,"economy, economy...."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Taped (You know, like Saturday Night Live)

video
We've been listening to the news a little too much.

video

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dinners

Here are the dinners I made from the 30 Day Gourmet.
1 lasagna
3 meatballs
4 tacos
2 maybe 3 chimichangas
2 parsley parmesan chicken
2 crispy rice chicken
2 or 3 santa fe chicken
1 country chicken pot pie (we ate this as soup a couple of days ago and it was good)
2 baked chicken fingers
2 chicken in a pot (we ate this last night, not my favorite, but edible and, everyone ate it)
2 Chicken Tetrazzini
2 pork barbecue

I have plans for broccoli cheese soup, quiche, and I bought 15lbs of potatoes for side dishes. I'm also planning on doing some breakfast meals and, if I can find some good recipes, lunch.

Now all I need to do is get every room cleaned up and organized and I'll have tons of free time. Hahahahahahah

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things I wish I had to make cooking multiple meals easier and faster. (Mostly faster).
2 or 3 smaller cookie sheets (to fit in freezer)
2 0r 3 more 9X13 glass dishes
2 gallon freezer bags
food processor
snacks and movies for kids
another old crockpot
One more large pyrex bowl
containers that can be used in the freezer and oven.

I'll keep my eye out for these things at Goodwill.

Things I wish I had done
counted up all recipes that needed cooked chicken and cooked it the night before.
Emptied out freezers before cooking
Don't buy bread until all meals are cooked.
redo how I organize meat not yet cooked in the freezer


Oh yeah, did I mention I also made yogurt yesterday too. We love yo-cheese, we substitute it for cream cheese. I'm hoping to learn how to make mozzarella in the future.

Now I feel like I'm behind in homeschooling for taking the last day or two to make meals, but I think in the long run it will free up lots of wasted time, worrying and trying to find ingredients for dinner.

At least, 6 more meals will be added today. I'll need to rearrange the freezer before I can fit any more meals in it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Whew

19 meals, three broken bowls, waffles, apple bread, 32 large cookies and three days later...I'm not even close to being done. I still have 20 more pounds of chicken in the fridge. Both older boys have helped in the last couple of days to get meals prepared. Sam spent an hour cooking 4lbs of chicken on our little goerge foreman grill and cutting it all into bite size pieces. I would not have gotten nearly as much done today without his help! The nice thing about my kids helping (other than they are really, really helpful) is I get to talk to them one on one. That's nice! I like that!

I really like the new cookbook! We had chicken potpie tonight without the crust, so it was really just soup, but it was so good! Just the right amount of salt and nice and thick for cold, rainy days, just like today. Everyone ate dinner tonight, which just doesn't happen all that often anymore, so two thumbs up!! I'm glad I made a double batch to freeze. While we were eating, Super S said he hoped that this was one of the worst recipes in the book, that way we will be eating really, really good dinners for the rest of the month.

We actually used the recipe for tacos Saturday night and again everyone ate dinner without complaining. I think I've found our family's new favorite cookbook. It only took how many years?Glad I bought it.

Sorry, no pictures of the meal making or the dinner. I'm sure most of you know what those two things look like anyway. :)

Gotta go plan my day and rest up for schooling and meal making. Wish me luck. It's too bad I'm not Super Woman! Then I could do it all before the meat starts to go bad.

Hope they don't come take them away

I have to tell you this while I'm thinking of it. Let me preface, I have some pretty imaginative kids, past teachers have said unusually imaginative (meaning immature, but whatever, they're kids!)

So my BIL is taking some classes to become a counselor and needed to have some pictures done by children. He had to have certain things in the pictures. I think they were a house, a tree, and something your family does together.
When I heard this I said, "So he wants us to find some kids?" (We know lots of kids) Super Dad replies that our kids are going to draw the pictures, except for Super J who just scribbles. I said it couldn't be done, There was no way our kids wouldn't draw something weird. Us as aliens, or monkeys flying out of the sky or...I don't know, but there was no way. Super Dad called the kids in from playing outside and tells them what to do and that I said it couldn't be done and to prove me wrong. So they start to draw and every once in a while you'd hear a giggle, giggle. Obviously these pictures were good and funny!!

Super A finishes first and runs over to show me his pictures. (Wish I had taken a pic. David maybe you can get one for me,) He proves me wrong. He draws a picture of the family together, doing something. Can you guess what we were doing? Hah, you'll never guess. Go ahead try. Nope. Nope. Nope. Do you want to know?? He draws his family standing around the living room watching paint dry. Yep, we watch paint dry as a family, cause you know, we just paint our rooms around here all the time, for fun, just to watch paint dry. And it doesn't end there cause there is one of us not standing around watching paint dry. It's Super J. He's actually flying (actually shooting, because there are flames coming off his legs) off into space, presumably to find a family that is more fun than ours. And then on the other side of the paper he draws a tree which if I remember right was growing out of his body, with a house about to fall on him. Hmmm were's Super J when you need him?

Super S' is quite a bit better at least he drew us at the zoo, with only the elephants escaping and pure pandemonium about to ensue when we all realize that we are about to be trampled.

After looking at those pictures, I can't remember what Super L drew. I think it had something to do with rainbows. It must have been a little weird (not as weird as her brothers) because I insisted on Super Dad giving his brother Super J's drawings which are just scribbles that Super J tells me, after he draws them, are ice cream and trains and planes and cows and doggies. NORMAL stuff.

I'm sure they'll be taking those pictures apart piece by piece, really trying to understand why it is that Super J is big while Super Dad is itsy bitsy and just why Super Mom is standing so close to the wall, while it's drying. Let's just hope Freud doesn't come up in the discussion.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Birthday Fun

So, I know you've been dying to see what we did for Super L's birthday. Here it is. There were eight girl's in attendance (the perfect amount ir you ask me!) The girls had cake and lemonade on china and played old parlor games like button, button, who's got the button, musical chairs, mother may I and tag. (Obviously the last two aren't parlor games.) There were two girls that were hesitant about being at our house, but they warmed up pretty quickly as we started playing button, button who's got the button. I have to say, I was surprised at how difficult this game was for the girls.(This may have been partly my fault, I might not have explained the game right.) They didn't really get it 'til we were just about done with the game. They loved playing musical chairs and tag, but, again, had a hard time with mother may I. It was a lovely day! We all had a great time! I was grateful that one of the girl's mom decided to stay. She was a big help and it was so much fun meeting another mom from Super L's class!

Here's the table before everyone arrived.

I made fondant for the first time. It was a lot easier to make than I thought. I found the recipe on Allerecipes.com. (Love that site!) It was a bit sticky. I had to keep "flouring" the fondant with powdered sugar so I could roll it out. When I lifted it to put on the small cakes it
s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d like crazy. Even though the little cakes turned out okay, I was glad that I wasn't taking them to a real event where people over the age of 14 would see them.